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The Help To Buy Scheme for First Time Home Buyers

A Helping Hand onto an Elusive Ladder

We have spoken at length in the past about the multitudinous issues facing prospective first time home buyers in our current climate in Ireland. From saving deposits amidst paying skyrocketing rents, to being effectively written out of the narrative due to stricter borrowing rules and increasing home prices across the country. As a result it was recently reported that owning their own home has become more of a distant dream for many, rather than a feasible option for the future, with many saying that it would take them many years to save a deposit and even then they may not be able to afford the costs on current salaries. Rather than sticking with the unpopular opinions of recent months, of giving up avocado toast and living on your parents couch while asking for a loan of €30,000 we decided that today we would take a look at the more positive side of being a first time or prospective first time buyer. Believe it or not there are some options available to you out there, and we hope that access to these may make your dream more of a reality.

We all know about the all-important 10% deposit required to get your foot onto the first rung of the property ladder, as well as the additional funds required on top of these for legal costs etc. As mortgage relief is no longer an option, this all adds up quickly and when paired with every increasing house prices which don’t seem inclined to start falling any time soon, can lead to a number of hopeful buyers who simply cannot afford the costs. Whilst seeking a loan from a local authority may be an option for some, there is still the matter of a deposit to be raised and countless costs to be taken into account. The recent installation of the Help to Buy (HTB) Initiative may be a saving grace for some buyers, and has already helped many families find their new homes.

Essentially, the Help to Buy (HTB) scheme is an income tax rebate scheme now in place in order to help first time buyers buy new or self builds, and does not apply to second hand dwellings. This scheme allows buyers a rebate of their income tax paid over the previous 4 years as well as a refund of DIRT and will run until the end of 2019.

Naturally there are a number of stipulations on this as follows:

  • You must take out a mortgage of at least 70% of the cost of the property.
  • Applies only to properties costing €500,000 or less.
  • Applies only to new builds.
  • You must occupy the property for 5 years or more from the date it is habitable.
  • You must be fully tax compliant for the 4 years prior to your claim, complete a tax return form (Form 12) and pay any outstanding taxes that may be owed.
  • PAYE employees can apply using Revenue’s My Account system whilst self-assessed employees will apply through Revenue’s online system (ROS).

Should you have any queries or require further information on this or any other business or financial matter please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA’s new head office, where as always we will be delighted to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Should You Fix Your Mortgage Rate?

Keeping that Roof above Water

We have spoken recently about the struggles facing prospective homeowners and their long term range of effects on the market at large. Something we haven’t touched upon thus far is the struggles facing those who already have a foothold on the property ladder, existing homeowners currently holding a mortgage. Whilst this may seem like the ideal status for those struggling to buy their first home, there are of course issues which apply here that may not be considered.

It has been reported recently that homeowners could see a marked increase on their mortgage bills in years to come. This is due to the fact that European interest rates are set to begin to rise from 2019 to 2020 as the European Central Bank is expected to increase its main refinancing rate. Depending on the rate of mortgage and the loan size, this could see mortgage payments possibly increase by a couple of hundred euro.

These European interest rates have been at a stable low for many years, with many homeowners likely to not have experienced excessive rises in their time. In the atmosphere of uncertainty as we wait for the confirmation of these changing rates, what action can be taken either on new or old mortgages to limit the amount of damage to your pocket?

Fix it Up:       

A fixed rate mortgage can often seem like the most expensive option on the surface when choosing your mortgage, but can be quite the saving grace at times like these when rates are in flux as this option fixes your mortgage rate at one price for a certain period of time.

Whether choosing your mortgage or switching, a fixed rate might be the perfect option during these uncertain times and may offer you a slight buffer.

Pay, Pay, Pay:

Although it can be tempting when funds are low to take out further loans to replenish emptying pockets, this is likely to be damaging in the long run as your repayments begin to stack up. Instead of this, it is advisable to keep your mortgage payments up to date, and even overpay whenever possible in order to reduce your overall term.

In addition to this, clearing off any other debts you may have from loans or credit cards is advisable as the goal is to reduce your monthly repayments to as few as possible, with your mortgage being the ultimate priority. This will avoid you paying higher interest rates on other loans as well as your mortgage.

Should you be in a position of struggle when these rises come into play, be sure to discuss with your provider and solicitor options for restructuring your mortgage in order to avoid any long term issues.

Should you have any queries or require further information on this or any other business or financial matter please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA’s new head office, where as always we will be delighted to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Knock Knock Knocking on Overpriced Doors

We have spoken many times in recent years about the difficulties faced by prospective home owners, whether they be first time buyers or otherwise. The mortgage rules currently in place in Ireland can no longer truly be called ‘new’, and are unlikely to be changed drastically but continue to place heavy restrictions on prospective buyers. Recent reports suggest that it may in fact be keeping many prospective buyers off the property ladder permanently, if not delaying the process by as much as a decade.

A large part of the issue seems to exist independently from the mortgage rules, while house prices have risen exponentially in recent years (and are forecast to continue to do so for at least three more years with the possibility of reaching a housing bubble due to lack of supply to meet demand), the cost of renting has followed suit, meaning that many prospective buyers find it increasingly difficult to save the required 10% deposit due to both rental costs and the overall cost of the house they wish to purchase placing increased pressure on the hopeful buyer. A recent report by Threshold has found that of those surveyed, less than a third are happy to be renting. 71% of those surveyed are currently renting due to not being able to afford a mortgage in the current market. Similarly, it was found that 96% of tenants have found it incredibly difficult to find appropriate and affordable rental accommodation due to the increasing costs which often see families spending between one third and one half of their take home pay on rent. Many tenants have been renting for in excess of five years due to the lack of other options available to them.

Chair of Threshold Dr. Aideen Hayden has been quoted as saying the following about the current rental crisis:

“A home is not just where you live, it is a place of sanctuary, offering protection from the stresses and strains of daily living. The current insecurity for tenants in the private rented sector means that they can’t look ahead and plan, they can’t put down roots.”

Whilst demand for housing strongly outweighs supply currently, it has recently been speculated by Savills that the trend in supply is turning upwards which may lead to a more balanced market by 2021, meaning that there is still space for some good news in the future for prospective buyers.

Should you require any assistance or guidance on any business or personal finance matters, please do not hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we are always happy to help.

Remembering the Importance of Saving

Don’t Break the (Piggy) Bank

As January gets into full swing and we all settle back into the daily grind of working life, some of our New Year resolutions may be left behind or pushed aside in favour of those resolutions promising more longevity or better return of investment. High on people’s lists of resolutions is often the vow to save more money in the coming year. Whilst the increasing cost of living might make this quite a difficult task, it is often one of the most rewarding resolutions as the results can be clear to see. We have spoken recently about some of our top tips for saving in the New Year, and it seems like you will not be alone in your savings endeavours.

The Bank of Ireland Savings and Investment Index, published on 15th January shows that over half of Irish consumers were regularly saving during the December period. December is of course a rather difficult time for savings, and this sentiment was also reflected in the findings. Tom McCabe, global investment strategist with Bank of Ireland Investment Markets was quoted as saying:

“”Irish sentiment towards savings and investments eased in December mainly as a result of a weaker outlook for the savings and investment environment. This may be temporary given recent trends in the index but could also be an early indication that savers are looking for better returns on their money and are willing to consider alternatives to their savings account.”

This shows that although Irish consumers are continuing to save, there is a lingering fear that savings are no longer generating enough of a return in their traditional savings methods. This may see a shift in the Irish market towards investments rather than traditional saving. The Index found that 34% of Irish consumers also invested regularly during the month of December, much like the savings findings this could be either temporary or indicative of a new trend in Irish savings.

Hinting towards this being a possible new Irish trend is the fact that investments were more prevalent in the younger generation with 39% of under 50s regularly investing whilst only 26% of over 50s were found to be investing during the same period. Perhaps unsurprisingly, investment numbers were higher in November than December, which is to be expected as December is often a month in which consumers have less disposable income.

These findings also found that the Irish population have a strong preference towards saving should they encounter any windfall gain, but also a new move towards considering investments with windfall amounts.

Should you require any help or guidance on any savings, investments, business or personal finance matters please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at EcovisDCA.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Bad Investment Makes no Cents.

We have spoken at length in the past about various forms of funding and investment in business and the importance of the availability of funding for all businesses in particular small and medium enterprises who may rely on outside funding. Something which is rarely touched upon is the importance of choosing the right investor for your business, and one which can go the distance alongside your company. Failure to choose a sustainable investor can cause serious problems for both your business and the investor.

This issue is especially important this week as it was revealed that many Irish investment firms have been found to have failed to meet the required standard of investors by the Central Bank of Ireland. The bank recently conducted a review of suitability requirements for investment firms and found many companies to be sorely lacking, which is not encouraging news for business owners wishing to secure funding. Michael Hodson, Director of Asset Management has been quoted as saying of the findings:

“The review highlighted that firms need to improve the quality of information collected and how this information is utilised in the suitability process. With the introduction of higher suitability standards, the quality of the information collected is all the more significant.  Boards are reminded that they are responsible for implementing an appropriate governance framework that meets the suitability regulatory requirements and embeds a client-centric culture across the firm.  Investor protection is at the core of the Central Bank’s mandate.” 

The review found that many firms were unable to demonstrate that the required suitability policies and procedures were implicated whilst also pointing out that many application forms were incomplete. Some firms were also found to be reliant on self-assessment alone and had little to no tools in place for assessing suitability for investment, relying heavily on technology. In perhaps the most worrying finding, many companies were found to have nothing in place for dealing with potentially vulnerable clients and companies.

Thankfully, the Central Bank assure companies that in any areas that the findings may be damaging to consumers formal supervisory requirements have been implemented which should reduce risk greatly for prospective clients.

As always we are available for any advice or guidance you may require on business or finance matters.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Kick Bills before Buckets

With Irish people now beginning to get a foothold on the property ladder later in life, we are also beginning to start families slightly later and as such, thoughts often turn to what provisions can be made for your family in the unfortunate event of your death. Whether sudden or prolonged the death of a loved one has devastating emotional consequences so it is advisable to think ahead and do all that you can to avoid there also being devastating financial consequences. It’s a fairly morbid thought to begin the year with but we are big believers in thinking ahead and there are dangers to be found in ignoring the inevitable.

 

It is advisable to think ahead and to have your affairs in order in so far as possible at all times and at the very least to know what would happen to your existing finances or your current payments in the event of your passing. We might all have hated those conversations our parents would begin about the event of their death, but they are wise to open these discourses to avoid burying our heads in the sand. Having your affairs in order could prevent causing additional pain to your loved ones at an already emotionally painful time.

 

Something which is often overlooked are bank accounts. Whilst many of your debts will pass away with you, bank accounts are not among these. Your bank account will continue to issue payments etc. as usual until informed of the death, so it is advisable to ensure that someone is aware of all of your accounts as they may then be liable to take over a debt they were unaware of, or the account could be left running into difficulty. By contrast, the advantage of a joint account means that all funds can pass directly to the named survivor on the account.

 

Credit Union accounts are another issue which surviving loved ones are often unaware of as your loved ones might be able to avail of a pay out from your credit union savings following your death due to a little known life insurance scheme which accompanies your credit union account as well as being able to avail of any savings you have made. Credit Union loans differ from most as they will typically be cleared upon the death of the account holder.

 

The most crucial manner in which people fail to keep their loved ones up to date on their financial matters is their debts and loans. Many debts or unpaid loans will simply pass to your estate and interest will continue to accumulate on these until paid in full, causing a further headache for your family in what is already a difficult time, debts can even be recovered from existing accounts leaving loved ones without access to these previously available funds, whilst your estate can be liable for any remaining balance.

Mortgages can be problematic, some banks allow a moratorium following a borrower’s death although interest may continue to accumulate so it is wise to check your options in advance so all parties are aware of the situation, and to ensure your mortgage protection is full and up to date.

Having a current up-to-date list of your accounts and investments and ensuring that someone has the information or access to this information to avoid further heartache at a difficult time. Though these issues may feel morbid to bring up, they are vital to ensure that your loved ones can live on as comfortably as possible.

Should you require any assistance or guidance on these or any other financial or business matters please do not hesitate to get in touch or arrange a meeting with us.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

SHOW SME THE MONEY!

The question of financing can often be the difference between taking action on setting up your own business, and deciding not to go ahead with it. Certainly in recent years, financing has become somewhat of a fraught term with cash flow being a major issue and less options being made available to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Banks remain the top choice for these companies to gain finance as only a small minority seek alternative options for financing their business. It has been reported that even after finding themselves declined for finance from the banks, many SME owners still do not seek out alternative funding options. With the financial climate in Ireland beginning to take a slight turn for the better in recent months, perhaps now would be a good time to begin looking beyond the banks when you want to begin or grow your business and are in need of the financial backing or financial boost to do so.

 

The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland has recently urged SMEs to look towards alternative funding options to the banks, as this may allow them to access funding more suited to their individual needs. With the Irish economy now making a valiant attempt to recover, there are a number of new lenders emerging which offers a great deal more choice to SMEs which previously would have had very few options after being declined by the major bank lenders. Due to a newly competitive market, these lenders can often offer quite competitive rates and have the financial confidence to accept what major banks may see as being a risky investment. Another positive aspect of the arrival of these new lenders to the market is that many have the ability to deliver funds far faster than major lenders.

 

Many SMEs may suffer from seemingly weak financial reports when compared to larger companies, or be in the midst of a restructuring plan, which may result in them being declined by bank lenders. Perhaps these new more widely available lenders could now make all the difference for these companies which will now have more options to choose from.

 

Invoice financing is one such way for SMEs to avail of funding through companies such as Clancy Cashflow Solutions who welcome businesses which have been declined by larger lenders and allow borrowers to release funds tied up by their debtors in order to immediately make use of funds. Whilst some lenders create an impossible situation for borrowers wherein they may not have access to enough cash to make it until the payment of the loan, this financing option allows for swifter access to funds, sometimes even within 24 hours.

 

Invoice financing works by raising an invoice to your customer which is then forwarded to the funder who will allow for the almost immediate release of a portion of the requested funds to allow your business to stay running smoothly.

 

Should you have any financial queries or issues that you require advice on, please don’t hesitate to contact us at DCA Accountants, where we will be happy to help in any way.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

AIB TO THE RESCUE

The only thing more stressful and daunting to new business owners than an unexpectedly large bill landing on your office doormat, is that time of year when the “I know it’s going to be large, but maybe if I pray really hard it won’t be” barrage of annual bills come flying in. This year, AIB have come up with two new solutions to this common problem that might leave you imagining the logo wearing a cape.

For most business owners, the worst evil of annual bills, is their size and the fact that they need to be paid all at once. Without an enormous stockpile of gold in your basement, these bills can often loom over you and cause an unwanted interruption in your cash flow and savings potential. This is where AIB can step in (cue the superhero soundtrack) with their new Prompt Pay and Insurance Premium finance options.

As part of AIB’s ‘Backing Brave’ initiative, Prompt Pay and Insurance Premium are two newly announced short-term financing products designed to take the sting out of annual bills. The Prompt Pay product covers all large one-off payments – apart from Insurance payments, a shortfall which is picked up by the Insurance Premium product to assist both AIB and non-AIB customers manage their monthly outgoings.

These Prompt Pay loans must be a minimum of €5000 and be paid off within 11 months. Prompt Pay can assist customers with outgoings such as:

  • Preliminary tax
  • Pension contributions
  • Commercial property rates
  • Subscription fees to professional/trade associations
  • Annual audit fees

The greatest bonus for business owners in undertaking these loans is that both are offered at a fixed interest rate. This offers the peace of mind of knowing the cost of your monthly repayments in advance. The ability to spread these usually all-in-one costs over a period of 11 months can assist you in budgeting for the year ahead and help you to manage your cash flow without these lump sum interruptions. The only extra cost incurred here is a documentation fee of €63.49 which will be charged with your first repayment.

Both Prompt Pay and Insurance Premium proclaim themselves as easy to set up through your local branch. Should you have any concerns or wish to gain advice on your eligibility and finances in general don’t hesitate to contact us here at DCA Accountants.